BENGALURU: Amidst great fanfare and glitter, the second edition of the Hockey India Annual Awards were held here on Saturday, with PR Sreejesh and Deepika Thakur the big winners, bagging the Player of the Year award in men’s and women’s sections, respectively. The Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred to former India international goalkeeper, the late Shankar Laxman.
It was heartening to see the glitz and glamour around hockey, and the handsome cash prizes that everyone received for their efforts in the last year. Sreejesh and Deepika walked away with `25 lakh each, while Shankar’s son Manohar Singh Shekhawat received the award of `30 lakh, in addition to trophies.
Goalkeeper Sreejesh said: “This is a team game and it’s the effort of all players that brings laurels. The goalkeeper is the last line of defence, and all others played very well too.”
Deepika, a defender, also credited team effort. “It has been the combined effort of all. Being recognised is motivation for us and makes us work harder. The Olympic Games are coming up and we have to work hard.”
“I’m happy and humbled to be receiving this award on behalf of my father, who I’m sure would have been honoured by an award that carries Major Dhyanchand’s name. I’m thankful for this recognition of my father,” said Shekhawat.
It was an afternoon to remember as several Indian legends were present, apart from the men’s and women’s teams. Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh Kumar, AB Subbaiah, BP Govinda, MP Ganesh, Baldev Singh, Harbinder Singh, Jagbir Singh, Aslam Sher Khan, Ashok Kumar, Sandeep Somesh, Jugraj Singh, Baljit Singh et al made the gathering special.
Apart from them, legendary coach Roelant Oltmans, the high performance director for Indian hockey, was also present.
The senior women’s team that made it to the Olympics after a gap of 36 years was felicitated and so was the senior men’s team that won bronze in the Hockey World League Finals.
Apart from awards, a lot of entertainment made the show complete. While there were a couple of dance performances, what stunned the audience was a malkhamb routine, a show by two Hungarian bodybuilders.
Sreejesh was one of the stars of the show, as he broke into a dance while a popular Hindi number was played, once on request by the host and then an impromptu one. The audience absolutely loved him for his dexterity and talent.
Players were all excited about the awards function, too. When the nominees were announced for some of the awards, they cheered loudly for their teammates and fellow players in trying to guess who the winner would be. The cheering was even louder when some of their guesses turned out to be right.
HI President Narinder Batra was also felicitated in the traditional Mysuru style, complete with a peta, shawl and sandalwood garland.